“Hell Bent for Leather”
Ginny rolled down the runway with her walker. It was very expensive and had been guaranteed to hold up to 500 pounds. The wood framed catwalk also seemed to be reliable enough to hold at least five normal size models - about the equivalent of Gin and her walker.
Her hesitancy to trust such promises rose out of the murky pools of experience.
Ginny’s biggest fear was that the walker would buckle under her weight at some inopportune moment. She knew from the past, that this could be physically painful and excruciatingly embarrassing… both at the same time.
Did she let her fears shut her down, crawl into a hole and never come out?
No, no, our Gin learned from her mistakes…eventually.
Her investment in a quality walker was the first step. After some adjustments, the investment began to pay off.
She became more and more confident of her abilities to navigate obstacles, both physical and imagined.
Her quivering center core of self, gradually solidified and hardened. This translated into a confidence that told her she could pull off the adventure she was about to embark upon.
She had been invited to participate in a fashion show. At first she was reluctant to entertain the idea, but decided to accept the invitation.
She believed the fruit of her life experience might give encouragement to other people and so was willing to take some risks.
She met with the director and various coordinators. The event was to be an extravaganza showcasing creative ways to be fashionable.
Ginny had a great plan of action. Her intentions were to make an elegant entrance to the tune of something classical. In her mind’s eye, the smooth drama of her performance would bedazzle and blind the audience. The several flaws in her appearance would magically disappear and all would behold the wonder of her ravishingly beautiful body.
She had instructed the musical director to choose between a sedate Strauss waltz or a sultry version of Despacito. She was prepared for both.
She had carefully chosen her outfit to cover her ample curves and flow gracefully in a gentle breeze generated by an offstage fan. To further complete the occasion she’d wound several scarves around her shoulders. These accouterments along with her beautiful silver hair and subtle yet definitive makeup, completed a look that, at least in Ginny’s mind, was quite stunning.
As the curtains drew open, Ginny took a deep breath, licked her dry lips and began rolling down the red carpet.
A haunting rendition of Despacito wove its melody around her. As she advanced further into the audience's view, the tempo gradually changed to the broad sweeping strokes of Strauss’ Blue Danube.
Ginny was ‘in the zone’, primed and pumped to amaze her adoring subjects. She looked out into a sea of faces and chose to perceive acceptance.
What occurred next made her freeze in mid glide.
A deafening silence froze the screen behind her.
The projector coughed sporadically, went blank momentarily and then burst into a lively rendition of Rawhide. To add insult to injury, the song was being sung by Patrick Stewart, AKA Jean-Luc Picard, the sedate, rather humorless captain of the Starship Enterprise.
Laughter filled the auditorium as the audience ruthlessly cheered Jean-Luc belting out,
“Rollin, rollin, rollin
Keep those doggies rollin, rawhide.
Through rain and wind and weather,
Hell bent for leather,
Wishin’ my girl was by my side.
Move ‘em out, head ‘em up,
Cut ‘em out, ride ‘em in,
In horror, Ginny turned her walker to see a cowboy outfitted, whip brandishing Jean-Luc directly pointing at her, mocking any illusions she had about appearing elegant and sophisticated.
She turned again, in time to spy the crew, just off stage, bent over in laughter, slapping their legs in amusement as they watched Gin’s descent into mortification.
What they didn’t know, was that with age, she had become much less tolerant of others, especially those who chose to judge, criticize or mock her size. She trembled slightly as her hand began to tighten on the handle of her cane.
She went from mortified to furious in about 30 seconds. Her hand began to itch as she tightened the hold on her cane, preparing to lift herself up from the walker and hobble over to the laughing crew.
Wisely, they caught the steely glint in her eye and quickly dispersed backstage.
A few brave souls remained and cautiously came to Ginny’s side. Their feeble attempts to express care and concern, fell somewhat short of the mark.
Ginny wasn’t buying their syrupy attempts to explain and mitigate what had transpired.
Her most pressing concern was to get out of that theater, get home, lock herself away in her safe apartment where she would lick her wounds while contemplating the best course of action.
She pushed away the hands trying to help her and hissed, “Get the fuck out of my way before I use this cane.”
Her fury was palpable and flowed from her gut, out through her arms, hands and fingers. This energy was powerful and linked directly into the molecules that had created her cane.
The men gulped nervously, hands automatically dropping to protect their cherished male appendages.
The women’s biggest fear was that if Ginny tripped and ‘accidentally’ fell on one of them, there could be severe injuries.
To a person, they each backed away and gave her the space to make as graceful an exit as possible.
Somewhat, but not completely defeated, Ginny made it home.
She spent the next few days thinking about her past and how she had arrived on a stage, being mocked and laughed at by complete strangers.
Ginny hadn’t always been physically disabled, nor had she always been obese.
In fact, she’d been a rather frail, sickly child prone to throat infections from poorly functioning tonsils.
At the age of 8, she had these useless lumps of tissue removed and slowly began a journey to better health.
She gained a little weight, much to everyone’s relief. She had never realized that food could actually taste good, and she began to enjoy eating.
Several years later, at the tender age of 13, she was introduced into the sacred rituals of restrictive dieting.
Somehow, she’d allowed herself to be persuaded that her 135 pounds, wrapped around a 5’6” skeleton were somehow a problem.
She conscientiously tortured her body in an endeavour to reduce her mass to a svelte 125 pounds.
By the time she was 15, her dieting regimes had become more and more restrictive, and with the encouragement and prodding of an eating disordered mother began to take on elements of danger.
At 16, with the aid of a family doctor, she became hooked on diet pills. These magic tablets, also known as amphetamines, greatly assisted her endeavors to starve herself and no one seemed to find it disturbing that a developing female body was trying to survive on 500 calories a day.
Ginny’s dieting odyssey took her on a voyage that touched often on the shores of severe depression, anger, sadness and a persistent belief that she was severely defective and somehow, “less than”.
These beliefs persisted, regrouped and solidified over the next 50 years.
Two failed marriages, several short lived relationships and daily encounters with a media that loved pointing out her physical defects, left their mark on Ginny's psyche.
At the age of 60, she was about to embark on yet another diet. She dug out old diet journals, perused the internet for the latest gimmick and began planning how to lose 200 pounds.
By her calculations, this procedure should take about 20 months. That, in her mind at least, seemed reasonable.
She gathered paper, pencils and began making charts and formulas to assist her plan.
Then, something strange happened.
Ginny started thinking about all the diets she’d been on over the years of trying to control her physical appearance. She wrote down every time she’d lost 50 pounds, she then included the 100 pounds she gained each time she went off the diet.
She became disheartened when the tally reached 5,000 pounds.
Actually, shock was more accurate. She found it impossible to believe that a body could survive that kind of trauma and yet, she knew her estimate had been conservative and that the true number was closer to 7,000.
Her conclusion? Perhaps she needed to explore other avenues of thought. Perhaps weighing 420 pounds wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Perhaps dieting didn’t really work!
Gradually over the next 10 years she began to relax and let go of her expectations around body image and what the perfect woman should look like. She practiced being more compassionate and tolerant of other women and in the process, began to lighten up a little on herself.
As she slid into her 70’s, her tolerance had broadened considerably and she seldom considered restrictive dieting or extreme physical movement routines.
She began to assess and accept the damage that these two practices had inflicted upon her body. She moved forward with as much grace and dignity as possible.
Ginny, an artist, loved beautiful things. She began to see beauty as an extremely diverse concept and that indeed, it was often “in the eye of the beholder.”
And so we arrive several days after the catastrophic event on the catwalk. Ginny had carefully been licking her wounds, to the point where she forgave Jean-Luc and those cruel idiots who had used her and her disabilities to ridicule a large pool of people.
She gathered energy and prepared herself for an adventure. She was excited as she took a taxi to an exclusive clothing store that specialized in handmade leather clothing.
She carefully described to the tailor what she wanted and a few weeks later left the shop dressed in a very sexy, very revealing leather outfit.
She completed the look with a lovely leather whip that extended into a rather lethal cane.
Somehow, she knew without doubt, that ANYONE who messed with her, was going to be hellbent…period!